by Mike Masnick
Mon, Aug 6th 2007 5:56pm
Back in February, a jury told Microsoft to pay Alcatel-Lucent $1.5 billion for supposedly violating some patents Alcatel-Lucent held on MP3 technology. The case helped highlight the patent thicket around MP3 technologies, as Microsoft had licensed the technology from the creator of the MP3 technology, Fraunhofer. Back in May, as the judge was considering what to do about the jury's award, Alcatel-Lucent actually claimed that $1.5 billion wasn't enough. It appears the judge not only didn't buy that story, but didn't buy the jury's reasoning either. Today he threw out the jury's ruling, noting that Microsoft doesn't even infringe on one of the patents in question, and the other one is jointly owned by Fraunhofer, and therefore Microsoft has a legitimate license to it already. As the judge said, "The jury's verdict was against the clear weight of the evidence." As you might imagine, Alcatel-Lucent is not happy about this, calling the ruling "shocking and disturbing." So, there is likely going to be a long appeals process. However, this is the second time in recent weeks that we're seeing courts take a more reasonable approach on patents. Hopefully, it's the start of a trend.
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